Buh bye library card, hello smartphone? (or, how NFC might replace everything in your wallet)

Maybe it won't matter if patrons forget their library card at home...as long as they remember their smartphone!

Have you heard of NFC? And no, I don’t mean the National Football Conference.  I am talking about Near field communication.  The Google Wallet FAQ (more on Google Wallet in a second) defines NFC as “a wireless technology that enables data transmission between two objects when they are brought within a few inches of each other. Smartphones enabled with NFC technology can exchange data with other NFC enabled devices or read information from smart tags embedded in posters, stickers, and other products.”  NFC is a subset of RFID, but NFC only works between objects no more than 4 inches from each other and it is used when security is needed. Smartphones enabled with NFC are already being used in Japan and Korea by people to purchase subway tickets, check in for flights, and get snacks from vending machines. It is starting to look like NFC might actually take off in the United States now as well.  Why? Well, not only are more and more NFC smartphones being released all the time (even the next iPhone may have it…stay tuned), but also Google introduced Google Wallet late last week.

Google Wallet is “an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It stores virtual versions of your existing plastic cards on your phone. Simply tap your phone to pay and redeem offers using near field communication, or NFC.” And this is more than just another way for people to buy stuff.  Google Wallet “will be able to do more than a regular wallet ever could, like storing thousands of payment cards and Google Offers but without the bulk. Eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet. And every offer and loyalty point will be redeemed automatically with a single tap via NFC.”  With partners like Citi, Sprint, and MasterCard, and merchants like Subway, Macy’s, and Walgreens signed on to participate, it does look like Google Wallet (and/or future competitor apps) is destined to replace our old physical wallet. “Whoa, not so fast Ryan! Are you crazy!? What about security? This NFC replacing your wallet is crazy talk!” Maybe not. A four digit PIN is required to use Google Wallet, and if a user’s phone is stolen, a PIN is needed to access a user’s financial data on a separate, secure chip…if that chip is physically tampered with, it self-destructs.  Compare that to a credit card…if my wallet is stolen, there is no PIN or self-destruct to protect my money! And, as Google points out, ten years ago, 70% of all individuals were afraid to buy stuff online, and now, over 70% of all individuals access their credit card information online.

No self-destruct built into this card if it gets stolen.

Libraries should definitely be paying attention to apps like Google Wallet that utilize NFC technology.  Before long, many of our patrons may begin to abandon their wallets for their NFC enabled smartphones and expect to be able to use them at libraries like they can at the Walgreens or Subway across the street.  Hopefully, their libraries will be “yes” libraries that allow their users to store their library card in their smartphone wallet.  Libraries already have some experience with apps like Key Ring that allow smartphone users to store a virtual library card on their smartphone.  The good news about apps like Google Wallet (that use NFC) is that patron’s information will be much more secure and there is less of a chance of someone fraudulently using a patron’s library card compared to an app like Key Ring.  And there are some potentially cool uses for NFC in libraries beyond replacing library cards.   For example, perhaps patrons could tap a kiosk in the library with their smartphone to receive book recommendations based on their interests? Or maybe patrons could use their smartphone to quickly and easily check out books? What do you think? What is your opinion of NFC? What do you think of Google Wallet? When will we be seeing the use of NFC technology within libraries? How do you think it will be used in libraries?

Photo credits: Tom Purves and liewcf

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David Rothman’s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto”

When I first started thinking about launching this blog, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.  I definitely wanted to write about leadership, I definitely wanted to write about mobile technology, and I definitely wanted to write about my “brand” of librarianship.  But what exactly was this brand called? 21st Century Librarianship? No, that didn’t sound quite right.  Progressive Librarianship? No, sounded way too political, and besides, I didn’t want to accidentally get associated with an insurance company.  And as much as I love Flo, I didn’t really think being associated with her would do me any favors either.

Sure, she can save you money on car insurance, but can she teach a senior how use a Kindle like I can?

Later, after much thought, I finally figured it out…Common Sense Librarianship! Perfect! And then, much to my delight, I discovered David Rothman’s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto”! If you haven’t checked it out yet, you absolutely must!  To quickly summarize, Rothman writes that information professionals and their institutions should adapt to the changing world of information (that is caused by technology) or perish.  Information professionals should be flexible, creative, and passionate about solving problems. Libraries should measure user needs whenever possible and keep these needs the number one priority above all else.  Barriers between users and information should be removed, and information should be delivered to users as clearly and concisely as possible.

What do I take from Rothman’s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto”? We need to adapt not only to thrive, but to survive.  We need to be open to new ideas and be completely flexible when approaching problems.  We need to make sure customer service is a top priority.  We need to eliminate library jargon like “periodicals” and “OPAC” and “neutrino displacement grid” (that last one might not exactly be library jargon, but even I get confused by library jargon myself sometimes!) and deliver information to users wherever they are, at any time of day, on their device of choice.

See, all common sense, right? So what do you think? Is Rothman‘s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto” something you can get behind?

Photo credit: Rob Speed

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Introduction

Hi, I’m Ryan Livergood.  Welcome to my new blog!  I decided to start this blog as a way to connect and collaborate with other librarians across the country and ultimately discuss how we can work together to lead our libraries into the 21st century and beyond.  Like many of you, I have some concerns about the field of librarianship.  What are some of these concerns?  I am concerned that there are not enough librarians stepping up as leaders in our field.  I am concerned about the people we serve, about our communities, about providing the best possible customer service possible.  I am concerned that too many libraries across the country are losing the battle to keep libraries as an essential community service.  I am concerned that many libraries are behind the curve in embracing technology, more specifically, mobile technology.  I am concerned about the lack of Common Sense Librarianship.

This is a blog by a librarian for librarians, but hopefully it will appeal to anyone interested in leadership and mobile technology as well.  I am looking forward to connecting with you all!

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